In December, 1970, I fell in love with my first Mustang. It was a ‘66—light blue with a white vinyl top. It had a V-8, 289 under the hood. I had no idea what that meant, but I was 16, the car was undeniably H-O-T, and I wanted it. Badly.
And I got it, along with about a bazillion parental “conditions,” that Christmas. (If you have seen or read my play “The Ultimatum,” then you know the whole true story!) It was one of the very best years of my life, and even now I smile like a Cheshire cat reminiscing.
After college I had a ’74 Mustang. Manual transmission. Split pea green. Not my favorite car, but it was another Mustang, and I was happy to be driving it. The 1980 was another story—it didn’t even LOOK like the silhouette of a Mustang I carried inside my head!
And then came a long dry spell… I call them “the unfortunate mature years.”
After the 1980 Mustang came a lemon of a Taurus. Although it was black, with heavily-tinted windows, and I got a “D Vader” personalized license plate, that car was plagued with mechanical troubles from the very start and never really sang to me. I kept it only a couple years before trading it in on a hot metallic cranberry red Honda Accord with white pinstripes and a stylish but worthless wing on the back.
But moving to the junior/senior high school to teach was hard on that little red car. A half dozen slashed tires, broken antenna, rock-dented fender, and two horrific “keyings” down the entire side later, I decided I needed a car that would better blend with all the other “teacher cars” in the parking lot.
So in November, 1999, I purposely sought out a “4-door, nondescript, Secret-Service gray” Toyota Camry. It was still occasionally targeted by teenagers who would rather spend their time being vandals than doing their homework, but I learned to live with it.
In fact, I lived with that gray Camry for one day short of 14 years, three months, and put over 248,000 miles on it! It was a fabulously reliable car, and served me well.
But I was, after all, born in The Year of the Horse, and I always knew there’d be another Mustang in my future. It was on my bucket list, I often talked about it, and I even gave the protagonist in my mystery series a Mustang to drive. (And, as we all know, a writer’s heroes are frequently based on the image they hold of themselves.)
Then suddenly, the planets magically aligned last week. I could feel the tingle unmistakeable in my toes; it was time!
But the 2014s didn’t match my vision of what a Mustang should look like. And no way would I have a 2013, since that year had been the worst of my life. So I set out to find a 2006 to 2012. The goal was to find it before June, as that’s when I turn 60, and finishing off the decade of my 50s without the car of my dreams was unimaginable!
So to make a long story a bit shorter: On February 27, thanks to Craigslist, I bought myself a 2012, Kona blue, V-6, 3.7L automatic. (Buying an automatic was a concession for my compromised knees, but the car has wide black racing stripes, so it was a trade-off.)
Right this minute, there’s a Mustang in my garage—I keep opening the door to take a peek and occasionally pinching myself! The 26-year dry spell is over and I’m back in the saddle.
My Mid-Life Celebration continues!
An Academy Awards party was held at the Venetian Theatre in Hillsboro last week, and I was inspired to wrestle into my pantyhose and cute shoes for a second time in less than a month. For once in my life, I decided it might be nice to sit at the grownups’ table.
Now for someone who hadn’t worn a dress in over a decade, this was a very big deal. And the funny thing is, I already had a new dress, sales tags intact, that I desperately wanted a reason to wear.
Yep, I’m one of those people who “buys on speculation.” I’d purchased this particular dress way back when I was much, much, heavier, and hung it on the back of my bedroom door “to inspire me.” And way back then, the rather rude but rational part of me thought I’d probably be able to wear it (and still breathe) just about the time hell froze over.
Well, sports fans, welcome to the land of the midnight sun!
Granted, it was necessary to wear a modest bolero to cover my tattoo (which I didn’t know I would have by the time I wore this dress), but it didn’t take away from the overall effect: I looked awesome, if I do say so myself!
The “show” itself was something to behold! “Hillsboro does Hollywood” is a fundraising event for Bag&Baggage, the resident production company of The Venetian, and boy howdy, they really know how to throw a party! When we entered the theatre lobby, our picture was taken on the Red Carpet, and I knew right then we had arrived!
Contests for “best dressed” and “best costume,” along with random raffle drawings at every commercial made for a light-hearted and enjoyable evening. “Winners” were asked to make acceptance speeches, and prize bags were handed out like candy.
The ballots for choosing the Oscar winners had been collected prior to the show, and I had a hard time remembering what movies I’d chosen for which category, but in the end, it didn’t matter. Two well-informed (or very lucky) people got all but two winners correct, and they both received a very nice grand prize.
It was fabulously fun, despite the fact that I had to “sit like a lady” for almost five hours, and I can’t wait for the next occasion to get all dressed up with somewhere to go!
Mother used to say a lot of things. I wish I’d written them all down. As it is, I consider myself “the keeper of the memories,” though for the life of me, I don’t know who I’m keeping them for. March forth!
Our “family” was never a close one. Mother, who died almost a year ago, was the only glue that valiantly tried to hold us together. So I suppose it was only fitting that Mother’s funeral would be the last time we’d gather in the same spot at the same time.
Mom loved having all four of her children come home at once. And she loved holidays. Give her any reason to whip up her special recipes, and she’d spend days in the kitchen preparing for the kids to come home.
March fourth. March forth. And any way you look at it, the day after that is Grandpa’s birthday: March 5, 1888. I wonder if anyone else in the family remembers the date. I wonder if anyone else in the family cares.
And what I wonder most of all is why I do.
That’s right, today little Opie on the Andy Griffith show—actor, move director, and all around nice guy—joins the other two in turning the big 6-0.
But Opie was not Howard’s television debut. Before that he appeared in six episodes of Dennis the Menace as Dennis’s friend Stewart. (Betcha didn’t know that, now did you?!)
I’ve got a particularly soft spot for all three of these celebrities. In three very different and amazing ways, each has contributed enormously to what we lovingly refer to as twenty-first century American Culture.
Just stop to think about each of them for a minute or two. Oprah’s philanthropy, Travolta’s filmography, Howard’s body of work from both sides the camera. What a group! And to think— I, too, am right there among them.
Yep, 1954 was a very good year. And so is this one.
Rick had purchased a new suit, I had bought several dresses to wear to the “formal dinners” onboard, and we were desperately trying to figure out how to cram all our “nicer clothes” into the one suitcase and one carry-on, each, along with all our other gear.
Then, just days before the scheduled departure, our travel plans were abruptly interrupted by Rick’s sudden hospitalization, and our “nicer clothes” were hung back up in the closet for “another time.”
Months passed, and no “special occasion” arose to merit me wrestling my body into pantyhose and heeled shoes. Or maybe I was still grieving the loss of the trip and just didn’t want to bother with dressing up.
But a couple weeks ago, when we decided to attend Tony Starlight’s Supper Club and Lounge in northeast Portland to see his Dean Martin Tribute, it was time to “put on the dog.” (For those of you who have no idea what it means, google that phrase!)
So Rick wore his dark blue pinstriped suit, and I put on my little black dress—the first one I’ve ever worn—and we went out for a night on the town.
Special occasion or not, I have no idea why we waited so long!